Elliott calls for “togetherness”
Darren, who retired from playing at the end of the season, following a 29 year on-ice career, has signed up as Assistant Head Coach in the junior set up.
Club legend Darren Elliott has called for
“togetherness” as the Stars and the Juniors embark on a new era.
The Stars and the juniors have created a baseline
platform to begin the journey of working more closely together and developing a
junior pathway via the appointment of Simon Anderson as Head Coach of both
It has been further boosted by the confirmation Darren
will be the Assistant Head Coach in the juniors and provide additional support
to the Stars on a flexible basis.
Darren spent 27 seasons playing at Oxpens – having
graduated from the juniors into the Stars as a teenager.
He said: “The key for me this year is strengthening
the togetherness of the Stars and the juniors. It is something the club has
been missing for years and it is excellent that the Board have made it a big
part of their strategy. I hope that it is the beginning of a new stronger
working relationship between the Stars and the juniors.
“Ultimately this means we need to provide a steady programme of development
from the lowest ages upwards, so that we become competitive in all age groups
in the future.
“We need to create a junior development pathway and a
development team for future home-grown players to progress into. It is a
massive challenge, but we can make progress.
“We need to create continuity and make sure Oxford is
a place where youngsters can be trained well and develop into senior players.
It is a three to five-year plan so this will be a slow and steady process, but
it is a realistic timeframe for where we want to be.”
Darren, who has a testimonial match at Oxpens on June
16, added: “When the Board and Simon spoke to me about the vision for the club
I committed to help.
Oxford means the world to me and I know first-hand
just how important being given an opportunity and guidance at a young age is.
That’s why I want to continue to help in the juniors and have agreed to take on
the deputy role. It will enable me to give something back and hopefully help
nurture new players through.
“Unless Oxford focuses on creating a genuine
development pathway, we will struggle to produce players of our own which will
continue to have a massive negative impact on the Stars.”
Jo Mundy, one of the Committee Member’s for the Junior Stars, said: “Everyone at the club and the juniors respects Darren and the youngsters look up to him. Having worked his way through the ranks at the Stars he understands the system and he has a wealth of playing experience.
“To have been able to retain Darren in the club
following his retirement from playing is huge for Oxford. We’re fortunate to
have such a commitment and passionate guy in Darren and I am sure it will
really help Oxford develop home-grown players.
”We have got a real gap in youth players coming
through right now and it creates a serious challenge for the Stars. This is
something that need addressing as a matter of urgency and we are hopeful this
is now the beginning of a process that will reverse the issue over time.”